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Zǎoshang hǎo DFO!
Welcome back to Sunday Gravy! Thanks to Mr. Litre Cola for filling in last Sunday with another episode of “Baking with Litre.”
Let’s go ahead and address the obvious first, yes we did have a fried rice recipe post from my esteemed colleague Romonobyl just a few days ago. While his recipe and mine are eerily similar it was a strange bit of coincidence and kismet that allowed this to happen. As you are probably aware I actually prepare the meals that you read about on Sunday Gravy the weekend before I post. This is for obvious reasons of cooking, time restraints, length of time to write these and I need the extra time to give you the utmost proper nuclear grade lunacy that you’ve come to know and love.
Is this the right time to be making nuclear jokes?
Fuck it, I’m gonna do it anyway.
If you throw your brain in the Wayback Machine you may also remember that our very own Low Commander had an enhanced fried rice recipe as well. Us DFO folks really love our fried rice.
When I saw Romonobyl’s post I actually got a big kick out of it and even alluded to a “throwdown” in the comment section having just prepared my fried rice a few days before.
So yeah. We’re going to make fried rice AND orange chicken.
Today is going to be another one of those “Use up the random shit that you still have on hand” type posts. I still had some leftover frozen vegetables from my “Chicken Pot Pie” recipe that some of you may have missed since I followed that up immediately with my interview with Big Daddy Drew on our anniversary weekend.
Also still in the Sunday Gravy pantry was some hoisen sauce and some Szechuan peppercorns from my last Chinese food venture where I made the kung pao chicken and the broccoli beef.
Don’t be a kitchen slapdick who purchases these odd ingredients and let’s them accumulate in the cupboard or fridge before throwing them away a year later.
Use that shit! Get creative, that’s what this whole damn thing is about.
Over the course of the last three seasons of Sunday Gravy I’ve discovered a few things about my cooking. First, I don’t think I will ever buy store bought pasta again. B: I make a hell of a batch of homemade hummus and homemade pesto and %: it turns out I fucking LOVE Szechuan peppercorns. I mean love that shit. I bought a good size bag of the peppercorns, from Amazon of course, and put them in one of my pepper grinders. Out of curiosity I started using it as I would black pepper. Over eggs, in soups etc. It is goddamn outstanding! Gives your food an incredible floral, herbacious note with a low level of heat. Do use a little caution because too much and it will cause a bit of numbness to your lips and tongue.
I’ve mentioned before about my weekday diet of fruit, yogurt and baked chicken, well I make a baked chicken wrap with spicy hummus and a few grinds of Szechuan peppercorns that will just about blow off your nutsack with it’s shear deliciousness. Mother of fuck is it good.
I would have never discovered many of these things had I not started on this magical culinary road trip known as Sunday Gravy.
Let’s do a quick discussion about (Americanized) Chinese food. I’m betting the vast majority of you have had a fast food version of today’s menu. Orange chicken with fried rice. I’m damn near certain of that fact because my entire family and everyone I work with has. We will be doing the cooking at home this time and will be bringing the deliciousness level way the fuck up.
Chinese cooking comes together ridiculously fast and some cooks might even call it easy to make. Well, they are correct but they are also full of shit. The prep work for this meal is a bit of a motherfucker. Lots of chopping, dicing, grating, etc. Lots of prep. I swear whenever I run into the “Big Bucks” I’m gonna hire me a motherfucking sous chef.
When you go to a Chinese restaurant I’m sure you’ve been amazed at how quickly your food is prepared and brought to you steaming hot. Yeah, what’s happening is some poor entry level shlub is in the back chopping and mincing his poor ass off while the Glory Boi line chef gets all the goddamn credit.
This is my own way of saying, get your precook prep on before you even light the burner on the stove.
Let’s get after this bitch one item at a time.
As discussed with Mr Romonobyl’s fried rice recipe, the key to making a proper batch of fried rice is to precook the rice a day ahead and then refrigerating it overnight.
Standard rice is 2 cups water to one cup rice. You may add in a dash of salt or a tab of butter or some Szechuan pepper during the cooking process. Bring the water to boil, add in the rice and shit, cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to LOW and cook for 20 minutes. When cool, place in a container for overnight refrigeration.
Some of those leftover frozen veggies, about a cup or two – I used mostly the carrots and peas but a few stray kernels of corn got in as well.
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 tablespoons of cooking oil – I used peanut oil but vegetable oil will work
1-2 tablespoons of hoisen – optional
Soy sauce to taste and appearance
Sesame oil to taste.
Some grinds of pepper – Do try Szechuan pepper if you have it.
Get busy with the pre-prep. I obviously did the prep for both dishes before starting either.
Get your large skillet or wok up to a medium high heat and add in the oil. When the oil is hot enough add in the onion.
We’re going to saute the onion for about 5 minutes or so until just translucent. Next add in the veggies – you want these defrosted prior to putting in the hot skillet.
This will cook for about 3-4 minutes to get everything all intermingled and shit. Next add in the garlic and cook until just fragrant. Now, how I do the egg portion of the fried rice is I crack my eggs directly into the skillet at this point. AS GOD INTENDED!
Scramble the eggs along with the veggies and here is where I put in the grinds of Szechuan pepper.
Next we are going to add in the cold cooked rice.
Stir, stir. Mix mix. We will be cooking for a few minutes until everything is incorporated and the rice is heated.
Now we will be adding in the hoisen and the soy sauce. This is where you add the soy until the rice “looks” right. Notice how there was no salt in the recipe list? The soy sauce is why.
Keep stirring until everything is all happy and getting along and then finally drizzle the sesame oil over everything. Not too much since sesame oil is some strong ass shit but I do recommend using about a tablespoon for a rich depth of flavor.
And that is fucking that! Rice is all done and ready to party. Of course you can add in your various proteins and choice of veggies. This shit is supposed to be personalized. I wanted to have just a basic version of fried rice so it didn’t outshine the true star of today’s meal.
Orange Goddamn Chicken!
For the chicken:
Some boneless skinless chicken breast. The amount will depend on how many you’re feeding. Let’s say about 2-3 pounds – cubed like so.
2 eggs lightly scrambled
2 teaspoons of salt
Szechuan pepper – ground. About 1-2 teaspoons.
1 cup of cornstarch
1/4 cup of flour.
1/2 cup of oil for frying. – Yes, we are basically making fried chicken nuggets here.
For the sauce:
5 tablespoons of soy sauce
12 oz orange juice
1/2 cup of brown sugar
Zest of one orange
2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Again I used peanut oil.
4-5 cloves of garlic minced
2-3 tablespoons of minced ginger
5 green onions chopped – white and green parts. Some to cook and some to garnish.
2 teaspoons of red pepper flake
3 tablespoons or sake or rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup of water
1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch
A very optional secret ingredient to be named later.
Once again chop and prep your ingredients before getting everything going. Zest your orange.
I also squeezed the orange and used the juice as part of the 12 ounces of orange juice. Next we’re going to put the soy sauce, orange zest, orange juice, sake and brown sugar together in a bowl. Give it a stir or two.
Those last 2 ingredients, the water and the 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch are going to be mixed together in a bowl to make a slurry. This will be used right at the end of the cooking process to help tighten that sauce up and get it to goddamn behave! Mix the slurry together ahead of time.
Now let’s get started on frying up the chicken bits! This will be a pretty standard egg wash to cornstarch/flour dredge type deal here. The only difference is the egg wash will be elevated with some – you guessed it – Szechuan pepper!
The above bowl contains the eggs, salt and pepper and a tablespoon of oil. Mix to combine. The flour/cornstarch part of the frying dredge is just that, the cup of cornstarch and the 1/4 of flour combined. Put the cornstarch/ flour mixture into a deep dish pie pan – if you have one – for the dredging process. First you will take a fistful of chicken bits, dip them in the egg mixture and then drag them through the cornstarch/flour mixture to coat. Put the coated chicken into a preheated skillet or Dutch oven over a medium high heat with enough oil to fry the chicken.
You may need to work in batches until all of the chicken has been cooked. Don’t overcook the chicken. We will be cooking it again in the sauce. Don’t leave that shit too raw though because knowing you I’m sure you’re going to chomp down on one or three of those little fried chicken nuggets. I know you too well.
I preheated my oven to about 250 and placed the cooked chicken in a baking dish and socked that fucker into the oven to keep the cooked chicken warm.
When all of the chicken has been fried, it’s time to get after the sauce.
One of the observations I’ve made now that I’ve done Americanized Chinese food a few times, is that almost all of these dishes work from the same cooking process. Get a hot skillet or wok going, add in oil, toss in the aromatics, toss in the protein, build a sauce, tighten the sauce to the right consistency.
Just like today.
When the oil is hot add in the green onion (be sure to reserve a bit for the garnish), the red pepper flake, ginger and garlic. Cook fast and hot just until the aromatics are released. Next we will add in the that orange juice/sake sauce that we made and set aside earlier. Give a few stirs and then put in the chicken.
A quick note: the chicken still has enough cornstarch and flour coating residue to act as a thickening agent during this part of the cooking. If it doesn’t tighten up enough, and mine didn’t quite get there, then add in the slurry mix and stir until the desired consistency has been reached.
And you are set! Serve this along with the fried rice and maybe an egg roll or two, garnish with the reserved chopped green onion and you are one happy grubbing fool!
I did mention an optional secret ingredient up there right?
Here it is!
Ghost Scream Chili Garlic Jam from these fine folks!
I discovered this glorious bit of insanity a week or two ago at an expo. I met some of the fine folks who produce this and sampled. It is insanely awesome. It’s sweet and has the consistency of a jam but it packs a massive garlic punch and has a slow smoldering heat from ghost peppers. Yes, those ghost peppers. This is NOT too hot at all. It has a low heat but it does not blow you face off. It does however bring a heat, sweet and garlic enhancement to the orange chicken that EXACTLY matches the final flavor profile of this dish.
I put a heaping tablespoon of this jam into the orange chicken right as it was finishing up and holy sheep shit kids, it was most fucking delightful.
Don’t feel the need to add this if you don’t want to as the regular orange chicken as seen above is mighty fucking tasty on it’s own. If you are looking for a new level of garlicky spicy goodness though? This motherfucker brings it!
Let’s get a final look at the finished plate again.
Sweet, garlicky and very “orange” orange chicken with a kick. The ginger and scallions come right to the top. The fried rice is it’s own little bit of heaven with the garlic, ginger elements as well as the final finish of the sesame oil. No I didn’t make the egg rolls but these went perfectly with the dish.
Fēicháng tā mā dì měiwèi!
Or “very fucking delicious” as we Americans say.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to use up all those random off-the-wall ingredients haunting your fridge and cupboard. You don’t want to be known as a “Wally the Waster” do you?
Be nice to each other out there!